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Catching Up With

Alisha Pattillo: Houston by Way of Singapore

By Published: May 22, 2013
I love ballads. You have a lot of open space and time to really create something special. Maybe later I will do a ballads album—it's a good idea. I never liked John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
's playing until I was introduced to his album Ballads (Impulse!, 1962)—which, after listening to it over and over again, made me appreciate how amazing he was and opened up my ears to his music. Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon
1923 - 1990
sax, tenor
is also another favorite ballad player of mine. His tone is the best.

AAJ: Your quartet features the superb Houston guitarist Paul Chester as the harmony instrument in place of the traditional piano. Do you have a preference for the guitar or piano as the harmonic anchor and if so, why?

AP: Ironically I first hired Paul Douglas Chester for a gig my keyboard player couldn't make, and he's just stuck around ever since, and I'm glad he has.

I honestly don't have a preference, but I like the mobility of a guitar. Few venues have pianos, and those that do tend to be poor quality or neglected. As we do a lot of fusion, the guitar has been working out great. I like having the option when it comes to tone by using effects or different instruments. Paul Chester always brings his hollow body but is often escorted by either a Stratocaster, Telecaster, or, on rare occasion, a banjo.

Chester is a fine musician. He finds many appealing ways to approach a tune as an accompanist and as a soloist. I personally love his comping style; his ears are always listening and following my solos rhythmically and harmonically. It's a real treat to have him as a member of the band. The same can be said about my drummer, Richard Cholakian —he's very creative, and lights a fire under me whenever we play. I feel really honored and humbled to have a great rhythm section to perform with; they have really upped my game.

AAJ: You are the member of what is becoming a school of jazz all to itself in Houston. How have you found the musical environment—creatively fertile and supportive?

AAJ: Houston has been a great place for me to develop. I have been fortunate to have stayed busy gigging steadily here for the past couple of years, although a lot of it hasn't been jazz. The jazz gigs with the formation of my group Alisha's Quartet and CD release has picked up, and we manage to keep working. It has been such a huge learning experience being a bandleader, having to deal with the business side of the music industry: promotion, bar owners, management, sales, musicians. Up until this project I had only been a sideman, it was very easy to take gigs for granted. You just show up play your horn, get your money and go home. When you become a bandleader there is a lot more going on behind the scene than most realize.

The members of Alisha's Quartet are some of the top players in Houston, and being able to share the stage with these guys has been helpful in my own growth. Our next move is to record a live studio video of four songs in mid-May [2013], two tunes from the CD and two new tunes. Projects like this give me a goal to work towards and keep me in the woodshed. I think the most important thing is to keep growing, and working on my craft. If one becomes stagnant, the passion dies and fun becomes work.

Selected Discography

Along for the Ride (Self Produced, 2012)

Photo Credit

Dave Sartin


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